Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Review and Giveaway: The Honey Thief by Najaf Mazari and Robert Hillman

Publisher: Viking
Date: April 18, 2013
Format: hardback
Source: publisher
Read: for review (disclaimer: I received my copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.)
Pages: 290

From GoodReads: This extraordinary book, derived from the long oral tradition of storytelling in Afghanistan, presents a mesmerizing portrait of a people who triumph with intelligence and humor over the oppressions of political dictators and an unforgiving landscape. A musician conjures stones to rise in the air and teaches his art to a mute child. Master Poisoner, Ghoroob of Mashad, has so perfected his craft that it is considered an honor to die from his meals. These are stories of magic and wonder in which ordinary people endure astonishing extremes in a world of bloodshed and brotherhood, miracles and catastrophes.

My review: The stories in The Honey Thief are a nice mix of oral history and folklore, all drawn from the culture and traditions of the Hazara people in central Afghanistan. It largely stands as a testament to how the Hazara have, in recent history, had to cope with much oppression and warfare, yet they remain strong as a community with a rich, distinct culture.

The stories had a good balance between the depressing, the everyday, and the humorous. Several dealt specifically with the effects of conflict and war. Others focused on daily life, the seemingly mundane rituals and events that continue even in the midst of larger upheavals. Finally, the concluding stories, as well as the recipes included in the back of the book, were increasingly lighthearted and funny. At times bittersweet and at others entertaining, the collection was a great combination of interesting windows into Hazara life, displaying their history and culture, both their travails and their triumphs.

Giveaway: Thanks to the publisher, I have one copy of The Honey Thief to give away! US addresses only; no PO boxes.

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